Sarah Bidney

Sarah Bidney

Wakonda Club

3915 Fleur Drive

3915 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 50321, US

Watch the Video

Please indicate past awards won/recognitions:
Golf Digest Best in State

Other awards won (if provided):
2022, 2020, & 2015 Iowa PGA Section Youth Player Development, Golf Digest’s 2022-2023 Best in State (Iowa), Golf Digest’s 2019-2020 Best in State (Iowa), Golf Digest’s 2018-2019 Best Young Teachers in America, Operation 36 Master Top 50 Coach, 2019 & 2020 Operation 36 Top 50 Coach, 3-time Iowa PGA Section Teacher of the Year (2010, 2012, 2015), 5-time GRAA Top 50 Growth of the Game Elite Member Status (2017-2021), 5-time GRAA Top 50 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional (2012-2016), 7-time U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Kids Teachers – Honorable Mention

Total number of individual lessons given per year:
Male: 175 45-minute sessions
Female: 165 45-minute sessions
Junior: 295 30-45 minute sessions

Total number of individual clinics given per year:
I have held 375 classes/clinics in 2022. Primarily this is with junior programming of 302 classes/clinics but I also have a healthy adult clinic/class offering of 66 sessions. These classes/clinics are part of seven different player development programs ranging from 1-3 hour sessions. Operation 36, Future 36ers with Birdie Basics, Birdie Bombers, Leading Edge Elite Team, Ladies Operation 36, Adult Performance Coaching Program as well as some non-member classes. With the hire of my first ever intern this season I was able to offer a great student/teacher ratio in my programs while moving to 10 juniors per class vs 4-6 during covid years of 2020-2021.

Please indicate any Growth of the Game initiatives your facility/academy has launched over the past year (please give specifics on such programs):
2022 was a tremendous season, as mentioned above I was able to hire my first ever PGA PGM intern and I also hired a collegiate player and former Iowa High School Girls State Champion to help with programs. The continued partnership with our amazing Tennis Professional and Aquatics Director at Wakonda Club in our 3-sport All-Sports program which had two 4-week camps, one in June and one in July, and an additional 2-week camp was again a huge hit with our families. This program provided programming Monday through Thursday from 8am-1:30pm for juniors, over 20 hours of activities a week. Working families said this program has continued to be a huge help for them as some continue to work from home or are on a hybrid schedule with work.
I continued with the successful Operation 36 program for ages 7+ and Future 36ers for ages 3-7. I also continued my Leading Edge Elite High School prep program as well. Overall I had 300 junior members participate in programming this season – another record. With a Holiday Camp in December, I expect to reach 310 participants this year in Wakonda programs. Wakonda had 114 participants prior to my hire in 2015 – to almost triple participation is awesome!
I continued my on-course adult performance coaching as well as the Adult Operation 36 Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions. All programs went very well and I have very fortunate to have such an active membership!

Please share any programming you have made to keep your customers & students engaged:
All of the programs I have in place keep my students engaged – I have made a deliberate effort in the last 4-5 years to move from the private lesson model to group programming/coaching. I no longer want to see a student for 45 minutes and not see them again on a regular basis. My members are now coming to expect to register in a longer program with more time together to see actual results. Many of the lessons above for men, women, and juniors aren’t individual lessons but have 2-3 participants. My clinics numbers are for sessions with 4+ students. So I am creating an environment that is social for them and also fun, which is very engaging, and of course where they are learning and understanding the pathway to improvement. I continue to see beginner students using the facility more and making their own tee times, I’m hearing success stories from my established golfers that they’re scoring better and enjoying the game more. Long term player development programs are keeping my students engaged. The Operation 36 program has been a game changer as far as keeping juniors engaged, this was the 7th year directing this program and as far as student engagement goes, they love it! They love the on course events and the levels of curriculum. They definitely love the skill point chips and incentives throughout the program as well as the prize parties I run at the end of each semester. 4 parties in total each year – loads of smiles and fun! The parent engagement is also huge with training them to be “caddies” and being part of their child’s journey!

Besides the improved programming, I also use CoachNow to provide recaps and session notes to help guide their practice. I have a private Wakonda Operation 36 Facebook group to keep parents updated and provide shout outs to personal best scores/yardage division passers. I use social media heavily to share these shout outs – please visit Sarah Bidney, PGA on Instagram and Facebook and @DSMGolfLessons on Twitter to see how I reward my students for reaching their goals. Seeing students at a minimum of once a week really helps to build the relationship and trust needed to really help someone grow and develop in this game.
Lastly, I have tried hard to have student engagement and make an impact outside of Wakonda Club. I am currently in my second term on the Board of the Iowa PGA Section/Junior Golf Co-Chair – this has been a great experience as we created two online seminars for our strong junior tour program connecting our kids with John Dunnigan and Dr. Rick Jensen. In addition, I was also on the planning committee for the 2022 Women’s Golf Summit and was on a panel for the summit which took place on May 22. So not only have I served my membership and the Des Moines area, but I am trying to have a larger reach through the Iowa PGA Board and Women’s Golf Summit. I was invited to present at the 2022 Iowa PGA Assistants Teaching and Coaching Summit, which was great fun. I also volunteered with the VA to provide online private lessons to veterans last winter/spring and was asked to help with a GIVE (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) clinic in a suburb of Des Moines. Helping to keep injured veterans engaged with golf through these volunteer opportunities has been wonderful.